I bumped into an acquaintance last week and she pointed out that I looked really… happy. I politely confirmed, but she elaborated and chattered on about how genuinely happy I look. She said that we all look ‘happy’ on social media, but that she could see that I was really just beaming and that she was so thrilled for me. This is a conversation that I’ve had with so many people over the past couple of months, and I quickly realised that I’ve never written about my relationship, and maybe it’s time to open up about this understated adventure that I’ve been on for the past year… and how it’s changed everything.
Francois happened completely by accident. You hear these stories about the right people coming out of nowhere and you might even scoff at it until the situation slaps you right in your own unsuspecting face. A year ago, a work associate called to ask a favour. This friend of hers (Francois) was launching a new wine and the timing was terrible. She was busy with a huge, demanding project and asked if I could help out and assist with his launch by sharing some of the workload with her. I agreed to meet with him and chat about the requirements to see if I could help out.
I met Francois at a coffee shop in early June last year. He was really charming, maybe slightly shy. A bit awkward. Loud, but not confident. He was… strange. Intriguing. I was suddenly a bit nervous. He was handsome. I disagreed with some of his ideas. I felt chemistry, but I suspected that all the girls did. He had a blatant disarming charm about him. He still does.
On the night of his event, we were obviously preoccupied. I liaised with media and ensured that he remembered all the details in his speeches. After the event, I joined friends at the after party. Francois approached me once or twice, gave me a tequila for my efforts and we made some small talk. Toward the end of the evening, I was in a horrid mood. I was having a nightcap at the bar when Francois asked if I wanted to join for the ‘next’ after party. Not to be a spoilsport, I drove to the next venue with the musicians and left my jacket in the band’s car. How very Cinderella of me. We got to the next party and danced for a few hours. I danced mostly with Francois. And then, very spontaneously… I kissed Francois.
A few days went by and I started getting messages from him. Mostly about my jacket, which he now had. He wanted to meet up to give it to me, but I just never had the time. Also, I wasn’t really interested in a relationship (sorry babe). We exchanged a few witty messages. A bit of banter. There was definitely chemistry. After I retrieved my golden slipper (the jacket – keep up) we ended up talking. We spoke until the early hours and we kept doing this for well, a year. We got to know each other pretty quickly and I became more and more interested in this whole ‘relationship’ thing.
I wish I could tell you that the next few months were strictly filled with love and romance. I wish I could tell you how we kept our cool and that we were super easy going. The truth is that we fought. A lot. We fought, then had a two minute to two-day (and once a 2 month) rebound. We pushed and pulled at each other for months. Falling in love (and I mean really in love) is the most wonderful, terrifying experience that I’ve ever survived. Trying to make something work with someone who mirrors and reflects all your faults was tougher than an unripe orange peel. Getting to the fruit seemed impossible. Sometimes I threw that orange across the room, sometimes at him, and every time – he threw it right back at me. As the orange ripened, the skin grew softer (I am LOVING this metaphor I just made up, by the way) and it got easier to peel back. Now it feels like we’re both sitting here, eating this sweet orange together, feeling smug about how much we’ve grown together this past year.
Every time we started digging at the peel, someone else would throw another fruit in the bowl. Think prickly pears. Monkey apples. Melons. Somehow we managed to gather everything together and make a big, beautiful fruit salad out of it. Whenever we were apart, we always drifted (read: forced) our way back to each other. No matter how mad I made him (I am on expert level with this, by the way) and how much he infuriated me; I always wanted to be with Francois. For all his quirks – the ones I love, and the ones that make me want to run across at least three borders. Isn’t love just so exciting? Excruciating. Wonderful?
This week marks one year since we kissed. One year since I started falling in love with a man who I continue to fall for, every day. When I slide my hand into his, it’s like the warmth of at least twenty suns. A warmth that I can feel in every chamber of my chest. If you’ve ever met Francois, you’ll know that he is like sunshine. His personality is like that of a young (mischievous) boy. His heart is huge and his smile is insanely contagious. I watch the people in his life flock around him just to catch a few rays of his warmth and gregariousness. This post is awful for his ego – I don’t even know why I’m doing this to myself. He’s going to walk around like a peacock for actual weeks. So, just to add: He can be really hard work sometimes. I threaten to murder him at least weekly, I promise. There’s balance.
I do love that we’re both Afrikaans. I love speaking to him in our mother tongue, and I love all the little jokes, food, history and culture that we share. I love that he’s also from a small town. That he feels like home. That he doesn’t stand for literally any of my nonsense. Ever.
When we’re together, it’s like we’re on this really big adventure. I don’t know why this feeling is so different for us. We’ve tried to pin it down and try figure out why we’re so crazy about each other. What the differentiating factor is. Not very romantic, but we’re both driven by logic (fine – him more than me) and dammit, I need answers. We’ve both loved before, but this magnetic pull toward each other is like… it’s like being propelled by a particle accelerator and you’re heading for this big bang that never materializes. It’s exhilarating. It’s science.
So here’s to another year with this great, damn-near-perfect man who makes me happier than I’ve ever felt before. To every happy moment, and every day that brings us even closer together. And here’s to our own, personal fruit salad. And owning it.